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Amherst Primary School reunion that took 15 years to organise sees scores of ex-pupils gather in Old Street

PUBLISHED: 14:53 05 June 2017 | UPDATED: 14:54 05 June 2017

Former students greet each other, including (facing camera) Sharon Rodney. Picture: Polly Hancock

Former students greet each other, including (facing camera) Sharon Rodney. Picture: Polly Hancock

Archant

A “once-in-a-lifetime” school reunion saw scores of old Amherst Primary pupils gather for a knees-up in Old Street.

Former students with a photo of their class in the 1980s. From left, Connor Sheahan, Sharon Rodney, reunion organiser Jason Gallier and Stephen Boyle. Picture: Polly HancockFormer students with a photo of their class in the 1980s. From left, Connor Sheahan, Sharon Rodney, reunion organiser Jason Gallier and Stephen Boyle. Picture: Polly Hancock

Alumnus Jason Gallier spent 15 years tracking down his former teacher before organising the event at the Magic Roundabout in Old Street on May 27.

Jason told the Gazette there were former pupils from the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s. In all, about 90 turned up.

“It was definitely worth it, and it really reunited our members,” he said. “It’s something we hope to continue in the future. A lot of old friends came along and we spent the whole day reminiscing. Even the old headmaster came all the way down from Durham.”

The Amherst Primary School reunion at Magic Roundabout. Former staff members and students including staff members (front row, from left) Sue Jameson, Linda Boyd, former head Brian Gable (in purple) and Brenda Meeves. Picture: Polly HancockThe Amherst Primary School reunion at Magic Roundabout. Former staff members and students including staff members (front row, from left) Sue Jameson, Linda Boyd, former head Brian Gable (in purple) and Brenda Meeves. Picture: Polly Hancock

Organising everything was a “logistical nightmare”, Jason joked, as “a lot of people have moved on from Hackney.”

But Jane Evans, the “inspirational” teacher who helped organise the day after Jason found her online, was delighted with how many showed. She said: “It must have been the ethos at the school – it was very family oriented. It was magical. The welcome from each of the pupils was incredible. They were so kind and thankful.”

At one point they looked through old photographs. “They were shouting: ‘Look – that’s one of me, that’s one of me’,” she said.

Former teacher Jane Evans with reunion organiser Jason Gallier. Picture: Polly HancockFormer teacher Jane Evans with reunion organiser Jason Gallier. Picture: Polly Hancock

“It was so good to see them flourishing in their careers. One is a solicitor, one works for a resettlement programme for ex-offenders, and a few have gone in to education.”

Quite a lot of those who couldn’t make it have been in touch asking if there will be further reunions. But it would be a mammoth task to recreate the atmosphere at the Magic Roundabout.

Mrs Evans said: “It was a shear delight, and I can’t stop thinking about it. Friends are calling me and saying it was just the best day ever. Even if we have other reunions it could never be like that.”

Former staff members look at scrapbooks from their time at the school. From left: Sue Jameson, Stephanie Makepeace, former head Brian Gable and Brenda Meeves. Picture: Polly HancockFormer staff members look at scrapbooks from their time at the school. From left: Sue Jameson, Stephanie Makepeace, former head Brian Gable and Brenda Meeves. Picture: Polly Hancock

Later in the afternoon Jason said a group of pedestrians tried to join the party. “A few people were quite intrigued by the gathering and came in,” he said, “then they realised what they had become a part of.”

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